Fun Facts About Sacramento SUPRA iBox Exchange for Lockboxes

Sacramento-LockboxIf it’s not bad enough that people knock Sacramento for being a good place to live because it’s within driving distance of better places to go, we also seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to our SUPRA iBox exchange for lockboxes we purchased through MetroList. I wouldn’t be surprised if Randy Newman writes a song about it.

For starters, for being the 5th largest city in California, we seem to be last on the list for getting the iBox BT LE upgrade. This is a new Bluetooth-enabled lockbox that reads both infrared, apparently, and bluetooth signals. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to get it. The real estate agents who belong to the Bareis MLS in Marin got their iBox upgrades in January. They also received a 1-for-1 exchange, and their MLS allowed an agent’s representative, with written authorization, to do the exchange.

Not so in Sacramento. Here it is almost Halloween, and our iBox Exchange was just announced for November. The dates are November 17th through November 20, 2014, and it’s by appointment scheduled by your last name, so you know where that puts yours truly, at the bottom on the last day just above the Wisemans. Plus, MetroList is not offering a 1-for-1 exchange. I don’t know why MetroList could not negotiate the same deal with SUPRA that others did around the country. Nope, it’s a 2-for-1 exchange, which means for every two lockboxes we turn in, we get a new iBox BT LE. That’s probably not a big deal for many agents who might own only two lockboxes, but by my estimation, I own roughly 70 lockboxes, and at $108.75 a pop, that’s over $7,600 invested in these lockboxes.

I hand them 70 boxes and I get 35. Thanks for the highway robbery, MetroList.

Look-it, besides Bareis MLS in January, St. Louis MLS got their iBox Exchange in March 2014. Charlotte, North Carolina, finished their exchange a while back, too. But Sacramento, the capitol of California, will be lucky to get it done by the end of next month.

From what I can find, other MLS systems have fully allowed their agents (subscribers) to own the lockboxes upgrades received through the exchange, but our Sacramento MetroList will only “lease” them to us if we exchange them. They’re not yet telling us how much the lease payment will be, as that apparently will be disclosed to us after we stand in line to exchange our lockboxes. We have to pay off the lease in full to own the lockbox. (They do say if we buy and not exchange the new iBox, it’s $115 plus tax and we own it outright.)

MetroList won’t let us send a representative in our place to exchange the lockboxes, either. To participate, I would have to borrow a larger vehicle that can transport my Red Radio Flyer wagon, which I would then use to cart all of my lockboxes into Cal Expo. Or, make 17 trips on foot in four-inch heels.

These guys at MetroList are tough. No 1-for-1 exchange, we’ve gotta go there in person, and when they’re finished beating on us, we don’t even own the lockboxes.

But with the downside of everything, there is always an upside. Sometimes, you’ve gotta squint through rose-colored glasses to find it, but it’s there. The upside is the new containers are much bigger. They are large enough to hold 5 sets of keys and 2 security cards. Can’t quite stuff a remote control in there yet, but a larger capacity is a great benefit. I will no longer be required to slam the lockbox onto concrete to jangle the key loose.

Also, SUPRA says the lithium batteries never need replacement. That’s probably because the batteries are inaccessible and by the time they’re about to expire they’ll come out with a newer iBox and offer a 5-1 trade. From what I could find, the iBoxes in St. Louis are warranted for 6 years but here in lovely Sacramento, we supposedly get a 7-year warranty, with no explanation why we get that extra year over St. Louis. The battery life is extended because it shuts off when not in use. This is good because some of my old 280-series boxes have no juice left at all, and the 530’s and 535’s are getting low.

Another benefit is A Sacramento real estate agent can also use her new iPhone 6 without a key fob to open the iBoxes, but if she uses an ActiveKey that particular device will continue to work. The problem with the eKey systems seems to be that it takes two hands to open the lockbox. One hand is required to push up on the container before engaging with a cellphone held in the other hand. I’ll probably stick with the ActiveKey because it’s been completely reliable for me. They say the eKey will work even if there is no cellphone tower as long as the app has been activated that day, and I can’t remember to do that. I’m lucky enough if I remember to turn on my phone, which I no longer have to do because the iPhone 6 automatically turns on when unplugged.

A pro and con is the fact the lockbox shackle is now completely removable from the lockbox. This means I don’t have to try to wiggle into a small area with the entire box to try to latch it over a pipe, I can just slip in the hook portion to determine if it will fit. The downside is I imagine once it has been released from, say, the gas meter, the lockbox itself will fall on your foot. And then I will stub my toe. Again.

Plus, I have the added benefit of being one of the very last agents in Sacramento to get her lockboxes on the very last day offered, which is also, according to MetroList, the last day all of the old lockboxes will work. It sounds like they expect me to immediately turn around at 5:00 in the evening and somehow drive to all of my dozens of listings to exchange out the lockboxes or the old lockboxes will no longer open. The old lockboxes won’t work when the exchange is finished, says MetroList. I wonder if they thought this through? Other than how to turn our pockets inside out and shake us upside down, I mean.

For an update on this situation, please see my followup piece: How Sacramento MetroList iBox Exchange Affects Home Sellers.

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